Answer Interview Questions How Long

Examples of the right length for “Why do you want this job?”

“Working for the World Health Organization would fulfill my personal goals, because I’m convinced that we need to reinvent our society to prevent extreme poverty and health problems. I believe in humans and their capacity to be resilient and innovative, and communities like yours are fundamental to give hope to populations and to engage stakeholders. That’s why I would like to be part of this great organization. Also, I love implementing conferences. To me, every event is different, and each one is particular and exciting. I like to be in touch with experts, to learn about their work, and be in touch with a lot of different people to shape a program. My career goal is to combine communication and events planning with a mission-directed organization like the WHO.”

This answer is good because she talks about the company and its specific mission and then talks about the role and how the role is exactly what she is looking for and how her experience fits it. The combination of (1) company plus (2) role plus (3) her experience making her a good fit makes a winning answer, plus the obvious enthusiasm she shows.

“Why do you want this job?” sample answer #2 (for a mid-level consultant role on the pharmaceutical industry team at PwC)

“Well, the PwC reputation is certainly a factor. I would be proud to work for a company with such a long history of leadership in the industry. I feel that my proven track record leading teams and my education in pharmacology makes me an excellent match for the job requirements. Also, the role excites me because I want to develop customer solutions for the pharmaceutical industry and I know I could start delivering results from Day 1.”

Again, this answer talks about (1) company (2) role and (3) his experience/education. He does it in a shorter amount of time than the previous person did but he covers all of it.

Although it is shorter than the first answer it is also the perfect length.

Benefit #2: Extra time to think about what you will say

Many people believe in relying on instincts or “shooting from the hip”. While interviews are a great place to leverage your instincts to answer challenging questions, I find myself responding with higher quality answers by pairing instinct with clear thinking.

When asked a question, I usually have a thought that pops into my head – my instinct. Rather than immediately saying exactly what just crossed my mind, I pause.

During this short pause, I think about what I want to say and how I can make it an even better response to the interviewer’s question. I think about what everyone else will respond with — what is the obvious (and usually boring) answer to this question? How can I take my initial seedling of a thought and transform it into a memorable response to blow the interviewer away.

Rarely do I nail this, but it’s an effort worth pursuing with any challenging interview question. And pausing gives me those precious, extra few seconds to think a little more deeply about my first instinctual response.

When given a question, I can produce a C answer immediately (instinct), a B answer after a short pause (instinct + clear thinking), and an A answer with a few hours (deep thinking). Unfortunately most interviewers won’t allow for hours of thinking, so settling for B-grade answers is my next best alternative.


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